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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Aggressive Agenda; Climate Change Hypocrisy; Another New Plan?; Energy Conservation
Aired September 22, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.
Well, it is Obama week in New York City -- global warming, Mideast peace, health care -- don't forget a new world economic order. The president wants it all. Is he just a little too ambitious?
Also, why does the Obama administration say Americans need to be talked to like unruly teenagers about the environment -- controversial comments by the energy secretary requiring some explanation.
And Massachusetts lawmakers changing the rules, giving their governor power to fill the late governor Ted Kennedy's seat -- how does the sound of Senator Michael Dukakis strike your ears?
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Tuesday, September 22nd. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
A responsibility to lead -- the presidents hold the largest ever gathering of the world leaders on climate change that he believes the United States should do more. The United Nations summit of more than 100 heads of state aimed at pushing forward negotiations on worldwide pollution. The president acknowledging America's mixed reviews on climate change and responding to criticism by some that the United States could do better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For too many years, mankind has been slow to respond or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognize that. But this is a new day. It is a new era.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: While the president also pushing for a new era of Middle East peace, holding meetings today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Later this week he'll be pushing for a new world order at the group of 20- Summit where he will urge world leaders to, as he puts it, rebalance the global economy. Joining us now our White House correspondent Dan Lothian -- Dan, the president already struggling with a domestic agenda that is broad and varied and then to take on this international, this ambitious agenda right now. DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Very ambitious, but this administration really believes that these are all issues that need to be tackled right now. Global -- the global climate change rather, the U.S. and China biggest emitters, and this is an area where the president thinks both China and the U.S. can do more.
On the peace talks, the president pointed out today that you know for so long history has laid sort of out this case of trying to get a peace plan there and not being able to and failing. And he says it's time for us to stop talking about having negotiations and really make some action here.
The president, you know while he is pointing out that the Palestinians and the Israelis are making some progress, he's also saying that they have a long way to go. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. But they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians and discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity, but they need to translate these discussions into real action on this and other issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: So where does it go from here? Next week Senator Mitchell is a special envoy to the Middle East, will be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Washington and then after that the president is asking for Secretary Clinton to give him an update on negotiations by mid October.
DOBBS: Ambitious hardly describes what is going on with this agenda this week, including the G-20 meeting which will be held in Pittsburgh later this week where he's going to quote/unquote "try to rebalance the global economy". Is there anything about the man that reaches out to a modest initiative?
LOTHIAN: Nothing modest about this president at all. I mean he really is pushing for everything at this point. Again, realizing that there are a lot of critical issues that need to be addressed, so the president goes to the G-20 -- a different climate though -- the last time these G-20 leaders got together, the U.S. was on the brink of what everybody described as a second depression. And so the climate is a little bit friendlier as the president goes in there, but still a lot of critical issues that will have to be addressed when the president meets with these leaders.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much Dan and Dan will be there with the president...
LOTHIAN: That's right...
DOBBS: ... G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh. Thanks, Dan -- Dan Lothian, White House correspondent. The United States needs to take the lead fighting global warming. That message actually coming from China, the world's biggest polluter. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, the Chinese premier saying his country will do what it can, but the responsibility of cutting green house gas emissions is really up to other countries, in other words, the United States. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China is the largest greenhouse gas polluter in the world. Today, President Hu Jintao promised to endeavor to cut emissions by a notable margin, a statement short on specifics.
PRESIDENT HU JINTAO, CHINA (through translator): We will endeavor to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level.
PILGRIM: Some conservatives argue that cutting emissions based on GDP growth is not a real cut at all. David Kreutzer of the conservative Heritage Foundation calls the offer a sham.
DAVID KREUTZER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: So they're trying to hype this as China coming along and actually doing something. He said that they would reduce their carbon intensity of their economy. The United States has been doing that for decades at least. He is just simply saying we're going to emit fewer tons of C02 per dollar of GDP. Well that, you know that's not a commitment to any sort of limit.
PILGRIM: China, the manufacturing center of the world, belches out more pollutants than any other country. Its coal fired plants are still the source of 60 percent of the country's energy, the mainstay of industry. The most recent World Bank report found up to 750,000 people die prematurely each year in China because of pollution and 16 of the world's most polluted cities are in China.
Ten percent of China's energy is non fossil fuels, so a pledge to increase that to 15 percent by 2015 is statistically insignificant. Jake Schmidt of Natural Resources Defense Council says the announcement was China's first move in a global negotiation.
JAKE SCHMIDT, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: This was their opening offer. Just like when you go into a negotiation over a house, the sort of opening bid isn't always kind of your final offer and I think that's what the Chinese did today.
PILGRIM: Now the tactic today was seen as an attempt to make the U.S. make a counter offer to come forward with its own commitment. China and India have long argued that the United States and other developed countries have the burden of cutting emissions first because developed countries have been the polluters for decades. Lou?
DOBBS: And the discussion goes on. Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim. Well looking at the most recent polls, the president is taking on the ambitious international agenda, as Dan Lothian reported, while coming up with a frustratingly slow march on his domestic agenda. And the president is not now matching up well against some of his predecessors in approval ratings.
According to a new Gallup poll, the president's average job approval rating has now fallen to 52 percent. Only former President Clinton had a lower rating at this point in his presidency, going all the way back to the administration of Franklin F. Roosevelt. The polling reveals some deep concerns about the economy as well and the increasing role of government in our society and the president's plan to overhaul of the health care system.
There is growing debate tonight about a possible troop surge in Afghanistan. But one person is not sold on the surge. And that person is secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The secretary says she respects General Stanley McChrystal's blunt warning that the United States could lose the war without more troops and resources.
However, Secretary Clinton says there are plenty of experts who disagree, but she did not say just who they are. The comments exposing a rift in the administration between the White House and the Defense Department and among Democrats -- Congressman Ike Skelton, the top Democrat on the House Arms Services Committee, he wants more troops and both Democrats and Republicans alike are now calling upon General McChrystal to come to Capitol Hill and to testify in person.
New developments in the cross country terrorist probe -- warnings are going out to local police departments to keep an eye on stadiums, hotels, other so-called soft targets. The FBI says about a dozen suspects are being investigated and sought and more arrests are expected. So far, three men have been picked up in what the Justice Department says is an al Qaeda plot to blow up trains in New York City.
Well, is the White House using the National Endowment for the Arts to push its political agenda? A newly disclosed audiotape raises serious questions and provides troubling answers. The ever evolving health care initiative -- now even Senator Max Baucus, well he wants change, too, change someone can believe in.
And new calls tonight for a complete federal investigation of the left-wing activist group ACORN -- we continue in one minute.
DOBBS: More calls tonight for a thorough and complete federal investigation of ACORN -- Congressman John Conyers, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Congressman Barney Frank, chair of the Financial Services Committee today requesting that the Congressional Research Service prepare a detailed report on ACORN, the Congressional Research Service.
Senator Susan Collins and Congressman Darrell Issa have asked the inspector general of the Election Assistance Commission to investigate ACORN. Congressman Lamar Smith calling on the Department of Justice to investigate whether any Department of Justice grant money has gone to ACORN and the DOJ inspector general acknowledging to Congressman Smith that he will conduct that investigation.
Congressman Smith also calling on FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct a thorough investigation under the (INAUDIBLE) organized crime laws of ACORN. FBI Director Mueller said last week the FBI and the Justice Department would look into the matter. An FBI spokesman today, however, told us he could say nothing beyond what the director has already said. ACORN is under investigation in at least 10 states for voter registration fraud.
ACORN says it will investigate itself, by the way. That's their approach right now. Today ACORN named former Massachusetts Attorney General Stark Hershberger (ph) to lead that investigation. That investigation of course would not include voter registration fraud. It would -- we're not sure what it would cover, in fact.
Congressman Lamar Smith called ACORN's announcement of its own investigation of itself too little too late saying an internal audit will only tell us what we already know. ACORN is poorly managed and has little regard for the law.
New concerns tonight that the Obama administration may be politicizing the arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, encouraging groups to produce art work promoting the president's agenda -- that according to Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn in a letter to the president detailed concerns of a California artist who said that an NEA conference called encouraged artists to focus works on issues such as health care, education, and the environment, promoting the White House political agenda.
By the way, that filmmaker also taped the phone call, the conference call -- during that call, Buffy Wicks, the deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement directly called for the artist's support of the president's agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUFFY WICKS: We're going to need your help and we're going to come at you with some specific acts here, but we know that you guys are ready for it and eager to participate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Wicks is Valerie Jarrett's deputy, a senior adviser and assistant to the president. Late today, a White House spokesperson told ABC News that new guidelines will be issued to prevent such a thing happening ever again.
Well more evidence of left wing propaganda in our schools -- an outrageous new video has surfaced -- this video being shown in classrooms all across the country. It is the story of stuff, as it's called. Blatantly making false accusations against capitalism and the effects of human consumption on the environment -- take a look at some of these clips being shown to school children. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's start with the government. Now, my friends tell me I should use a tank to symbolize the government, and that's true in many countries and increasingly in our own. After all, more than 50 percent of our federal tax money is now going to the military, but I'm using a person to symbolize the government because I hold true to the vision of values the government should be of the people, by the people, for the people.
It's the government's job to watch out for us, to take care of us. That's their job. As the corporation has grown in size and power, we have seen a little change in the government where they're a little more concerned and making sure everything is working out for those guys than for us. We'll start with extraction, which is a fancy word for natural resource exploitation, which is a fancy word for trashing the planet. What this looks like is we chop down the trees, we blow up mountains to get the metals inside. We use up all the water and we wipe out the animals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Wow. The purpose of government is to watch out for us, to take care of us. Well, the video is the brain child of Annie Leonard (ph), a former Green Peace member, self-described unapologetic activist. Millions more have seen this video on the Internet, but it is obviously full of at the very least half truths, distortions, and without question a straightforward propaganda message. Well that's what's happening in your schools. Let us know what you think of it. Go to loudobbs.com. We'd love to hear from you.
Turning now to the health care debate on Capitol Hill -- Senator Max Baucus today offering changes to his own health care proposal. His colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee agree that his plan needed some changes. They proposed in fact more than 560 amendments to the Baucus initiative before it even becomes legislation -- Dana Bash with our report.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He began by marking the moment with a little prodding.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: My colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history.
BASH: But the Democratic finance chairman knew the only way to find enough votes from fellow Democrats to pass a health care overhaul was to change his own proposal.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: We have to make the insurance exchange more affordable for average working families.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is key when we finish this that we are lowering those costs in a way that makes this more affordable. BASH: So even before a long week of committee voting began, Senator Max Baucus made a slew of concessions aimed at making insurance more affordable for the middle class, increasing subsidies to families making up to $88,000 a year and reducing the maximum penalty for families who don't get health insurance under a new mandate for coverage, bringing it from $3,800 down to $1,900.
Also, to answer concerns among several Democrats who say a tax on high cost insurance plans would hit working class Americans Baucus is now exempting high-risk professions like firefighters and coal miners as well as retirees. The changes were not just about calming worried Democrats, but also luring one moderate Republican, Olympia Snowe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you read that one in the middle of the page (INAUDIBLE). That's important (INAUDIBLE) amendment (INAUDIBLE).
BASH: Her remarks were positive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a solid standing point...
BASH: A far cry from other Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is a stunning assault on liberty.
BASH: Whose criticism largely centered on one word, taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill contains almost $350 billion in new taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raising taxes during a recession is not the way to create jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new taxes that are going to be passed on to the consumers.
BASH: Meanwhile, senators on both sides of the aisle settled in to slog through the complicated details and more than 500 amendments. Perhaps it was the anticipation of a long week that caused Republican Senator Jim Bunning to appear to take a nap.
BASH: Now, Senator Bunning has made clear that he has no intention of supporting Senator Baucus' proposal. That's true for most of the Republicans and that's why the name of the game for the Democratic Chairman Max Baucus is to make sure he doesn't lose Democratic votes. And Lou, as you can see, they are still working behind me.
They intend to work and vote on amendments up until late this evening. And now listening to Democrats today, despite the changes they still want many more. In fact we are going to probably see a fight over one of the most divisive Democratic issues and that is whether or not to have a government-run health care option which is currently not in this proposal. Lou? DOBBS: But which is demanded by, as you've reported, a number of people in the Senate, demanded as well by about 100 liberal congressmen in the House. And I'm laughing about the fact those people are behind you working there, Dana. First of all, we have reported that about 96 percent of the legislation that goes through the Senate is never read. You have got 560 amendments there.
This legislation is what, just under 400 -- well will be about 400 pages we're told when it comes through. How much of this is being read? How much of this is for the effect of the -- of our cameras there with you? How much of this is the real deal?
BASH: They really are going through this. And I should just let you know that they are really just starting to have votes on amendments now. But you know throughout the afternoon I think to your average person, it would be frankly rather mind-numbing to listen to the senators because they did really get into the nitty-gritty, especially on the issue of cost. How much is this going to cost? So they have been slugging through this. And you know, they are reading it because at this point, they are actually creating this proposal.
DOBBS: They can't run from it right now, right? Well at 500 -- I have never heard of 560 amendments in what amounts to about 24 hours. Basically what Senator Baucus has here is change that at this point no one believes in, is that correct?
BASH: You know it's -- it's going to be very tough for them to get through all these amendments now, because of all the changes that Senator Baucus put in place before they even began. There are fewer than about -- probably fewer than 500, but they still say that they are determined to do this by the end of the week. I think we are going to see a lot of late nights and a lot early mornings.
DOBBS: What is the hurry here? I don't understand this. And I really -- and I'm being absolutely genuine, sincere, and straightforward here. I do not understand where these artificial self-imposed deadlines come from and all of the political nonsense that attends them. What is so special about this Friday?
BASH: You know what -- there has been a debate about the deadline all day in this room behind me, Lou...
DOBBS: Oh, for crying out loud.
BASH: You have heard Republicans -- you have heard Republicans saying what you just said, saying what is the rush? And at that at the same time many Democrats saying, rush? We have been trying to do this since Teddy Roosevelt. We're not rushing here. So there's certainly been a debate about that. But the reality is that we are already towards the end of September and the president wants this on his desk by the end of the year.
BASH: And we still have a lot of -- a lot of...
DOBBS: Again, so what? I mean I don't understand. It took a year and a half to move Medicare legislation into reality. We have seen -- this was the best effort of a Senate committee over a seven- month period, and it is willfully wanting in the minds of Democrats and Republicans. Doesn't it make just common sense, forget the politics, the partisanship, make sense to stop and think and look at this matter with some -- well, sober, careful, cautious, thoughtful deliberation?
BASH: That is going to be a question that is going to be debated and deliberating as they...
BASH: Debated and deliberated as they debate and deliberate this, but one last point and I want to leave you with...
BASH: ... which might actually force them to take a little bit more time which is kind of interesting, I thought, from what I heard today. And that is that the director of the Congressional Budget Office who is very important in terms of determining how much this is going to cost the taxpayers.
DOBBS: And who has contradicted the administration already three times on its assertions on cost, on effectiveness, and efficiency.
BASH: Well, with regard to this particular proposal, he warned the chairman that it might take up to two weeks to have a final assessment of how much it's going to cost. If that is the case...
BASH: ... that might you know in and of itself slow this down.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Dana Bash -- as always, great reporting from Capitol Hill.
BASH: Thanks Lou.
DOBBS: Up next, world leaders at the United Nations this week, but is the United Nations even relevant? That's the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight. Some controversial comments by the energy secretary, Steven Chu comparing the American public to unruly teenagers -- what is elitist about that? We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Well, the nanny state taking on new meaning -- the federal government treating its citizens like children in the mind of many. The secretary of energy, Steven Chu, seems to believe energy conservation and climate change too much for American people to grasp. Are they citizens or are they subjects -- Lisa Sylvester with our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned that the United States to stay globally competitive needs to reduce green house gas emissions and save energy. The Obama administration is launching a push this fall to educate the public on climate change and energy efficiency, reaching out to schools and youth groups and providing funds for energy conservation in homes.
Chu told reporters at a conference quote "I'll go back to the American public, just like your teenage kids aren't acting in a way that they should act, I think the American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is." But these comments aren't sitting well with some conservative commentators who say it's a bit patronizing to tell Americans how to live and comparing them to unruly teenagers.
DAVID BOAZ, CATO INSTITUTE: Americans ought to make their own decisions. The government can provide information, but this gets to be very nanny status. It's like the government is our mother. They want to tuck us in at night. They want to wipe our noses and they want to tell us how to act.
SYLVESTER: The Center for American Progress is a liberal think tank. Dan Weiss says the government has a role in setting energy efficiency goals.
DANIEL WEISS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: There is a role for government to work with business to make sure that Americans have choices so they can choose the most efficient air conditioners and dishwashers, the most efficient homes.
SYLVESTER: A spokesperson for Secretary Chu's office denied this was a case of the nanny state at work. "Secretary Chu was not comparing the public to teenagers. He was saying that we need to educate teenagers about ways to save energy. He also recognized the need to educate the broader public about how important clean energy industries are to our competitive position in the global economy."
SYLVESTER: Consider this though -- a Department of Energy inspector general audit this summer found the agency hasn't exactly been a role model of energy efficiency, wasting millions of dollars in energy, leaving computers on after hours and the report said the department should make better use of its energy conservation equipment. Lou?
DOBBS: Yes, when it comes to managing their own energy policy, the Energy Department itself appears to be like downright juvenile delinquents. Thanks very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
Up next, has the United Nations become completely irrelevant? That's the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight. We'll be joined by four leading experts. And then replacing Kennedy -- the decision in the hands of the Massachusetts Governor and word is we may be soon looking at someone named Dukakis. You remember him?
DOBBS: President Obama gave his first speech at the United Nations today but just how relevant, how effective is the United Nations? That is the subject of our "Face-off" debate here tonight and joining me, Bruce Jones who is the director and senior fellow at New York University's Center on International Cooperation, also a senior fellow at Brookings Institution. Stephen Schlesinger, adjunct fellow at the Century Foundation who is the former director of the World Policy Institute at the new school and Claudia Rosett journalist and resident at the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies, and Anne Bayefsky who is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Thank you all for being here.
Anne, let me begin with you. You say no amount of reform can fix what's broken with the United Nations. That sounds like a good starting point for a discussion.
ANNE BAYEFSKY, HUDSON INSTITUTE: The U.N. is a 20th century organization. It's not meant for the 21st century. It has very little hope of meeting the major issues of our time. It can't stop nuclear proliferation. It hasn't done a good job of preventing genocide in the major crimes against human rights. And I think that it's the fact of the matter is it's no longer an organization which is run by democracies for democracies, and the numbers simply, you do the math, it doesn't have the will to change dramatically.
STEPHEN SCHLESINGER, CENTURY FOUNDATION: Well, I would disagree with that proposition.
DOBBS: I was counting on it.
SCHLESINGER: The fact is that when the U.N. was set up, it was set up to provide security in this world. We went through two terrible conflicts, the first war and the Second World War, and it was set up to prevent the third war. There have been a lot of small wars, but a lot of other wars have been prevented by U.N. intervention. There are 16 peace keeping missions going on right now which if the U.N. weren't doing, we would be in great problems because there would be no other organization to deal with those kind of conflicts. And right now, the U.N. is the one body putting sanctions on two rogue states, North Korea and Iran. Who else can do that kind of thing? We have to have the U.N. around to provide that kind of security for our world.
DOBBS: Claudia Rosett? You say it's not only a broken institution, but the United Nations is fundamentally corrupt.
CLAUDIA ROSETT, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Unfortunately, that wasn't the plan, but it's a huge collective. And the main security, I was just over there, the main security right now is for Ahmadinejad and Gadhafi arriving at the general assembly, the general assembly now chaired by a former minister of Gadhafi's administration where the voting bloc had 137 members and picked Sudan. That's the kind of organization it is.
With respect, I would actually argue it wasn't the U.N. who prevented the terrible wars. It was the United States. And a lot of the peace keeping missions have been disasters. Rwanda with the genocide. Sudan is a mess. Lebanon which allowed Hezbollah to dig bunkers right under their noses and a war broke out in 2006. And sanctions sound good, U.N. sanctions, but the U.N. is phenomenally leaky. Again, it's actually tends to be U.S. enforcement of these enforcement of these sanctions that gets somewhere. We could do a whole show on ineffectual U.N. sanctions but they're not stopping --
DOBBS: We're going to do one debate, on relevance and effectiveness. Bruce, the importance of the president sitting down as is first chair of the security council, does this rise to a level of importance that will be lasting, that will be significant?
BRUCE JONES, NYU CTR. ON INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: I think it's going to make a difference. I don't agree with much of what's been said so far, to be honest. I think the U.N. does important things. If you look, for example, at the track record on civil wars and small wars I think the data's pretty clear. We've seen an 80 percent decline in the level and number of civil wars since the early 1990s and all the evidence shows U.N. peacekeeping is part of that. Fails sometimes, succeeds sometimes, as do most institutions and we have to judge it on evaluation. On the president's chairmanship of the Security Council this week, what it's going to do is stake his personal political prestige on this issue. The issue isn't the U.N., the issue is Obama. He's saying, I'm going to be willing to pay serious attention to this body and put serious political prestige and will through this body but you better be serious on the nonproliferation agenda as well.
BAYEFSKY: If I may just comment on that, that's exactly the problem. He's lending his prestige to a body that has no hope whatsoever of doing anything about stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It was the president, because he decided to turn this into a summit, that issued an invitation to Colonel Gadhafi to come. What he's done is he's raised the profile and the legitimacy and the organization itself of course is granting legitimacy to Iranian President Ahmadinejad by an election obviously a fraud. Yet he'll stand before the general assembly, reap applause, probably a big hug from the president of the general assembly like he did last year, give him credibility where none is due.
JONES: We could have a United Nations of the United States, Sweden, Norway, Canada. We could easily pass resolutions and agree to do things. But so what?
ROSETT: That's a great idea, actually I think that's a wonderful proposal.
JONES: The whole point is to have confrontation with people who we don't agree with. That's the whole point.
SCHLESINGER: When the U.N. was set up we had both dictators and Democrats in the organization. The theory was you had to bring both in if you wanted to create security around the world. That's the way you got the peace. You couldn't exclude people. That's the way the U.N. was put together. And frankly, in the last 50 to 60 years Democratization has spread around the world. In 1950, it was about 33 percent of the world's population was under democracy. By the year 2000, about 67 percent was under some kind of Democratic rule --
ROSETT: Statisticians would call that Steve Schlesinger correlation, the fact that U.N. existed with that, so did window cleaner. It doesn't prove the U.N. was the reason. I would suggest perhaps a bigger reason is that by the time World War II was over, the United States was really engaged with the world. There had been a tremendous statement made. And when you look at sort of what's happened over the past 20 years with the expansion of peacekeeping, what's also happened is the Soviet Union collapsed. And it's not necessarily the U.N. that's been doing good things here.
JONES: The correlations are pretty well-studied. There was a spike in civil wars after the collapse of the Soviet Union and it took the deployment of large numbers of peacekeepers and mediators by the U.N., with substantial U.S. involvement, by the Europeans and others --
BAYEFSKY: Let's talk about the 21st century. Here we are. Sorry.
DOBBS: Let me raise this. The president talking about a new world order. Talking about new world regulations of markets and economies and a specific special role for the G-20. Is the concept of a new world order an appropriate discussion for this institution? And is it likely to be an effective discussion, if indeed it were even termed to be desirable? Bruce, you first.
JONES: Well, let's bear in mind he's talking about the economic issues of the G-20, which is not a U.N. body. I think that's actually the right place to do it. One of the things people have tried to do in the past is involve the United Nations in big economic questions and that's a disaster. The U.N.'s irrelevant on these issues. Getting the big economies together to talk about the major issues they're confronting and the financial increase sister through the G-20 is the right move.
SCHLESINGER: Yeah, I mean, I think the fact is that, you know, the U.N. has limitations. Nobody's going to expect the U.N. to bring peace tomorrow. You know, it's an ongoing process. But the fact is that the U.N. does provide a forum for different viewpoints to come together and ways to come to agreements that produce results. And this idea that you can just dismiss the U.N. as an irrelevant body seems to me preposterous.
ROSETT: I don't think they're irrelevant. I actually think they're extremely dangerous. Talking shop would be marvelous. To bring people together to confront, discuss, I think there's a real reason for that, need for that. But the U.N. spilled over those bounds a long time ago. If you actually get down to the nitty gritty of how it works it's staggeringly corrupt. It's unaccountable. And the idea that it's going to sort of work through to good conclusions, just is disconnected from the reality. It's a lovely dream.
DOBBS: You get the last quick word.
BAYEFSKY: Well I'd have to say that the problem today and over the next couple of days is that it's President Obama is going to try to use the united nations to change the subject. Take his -- the attention off the failed -- failing domestic policies. And unfortunately give status to an organization which is not really in sync with American values.
SCHLESINGER: Nonproliferation is a pretty important subject, though.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Appreciate you all being with us. Come back soon.
Still ahead, much more on the president's ambitious agenda. Chaos in Honduras. Speaking of agendas, the surprise return of the ousted president sparking clashes between his supporters and police.
DOBBS: The United States is calling for calm in Honduras after violent clashes between police and protesters. Those protests coming one day after the surprise return of ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya, an ally of leftist strongman Hugo Chavez taking refuge tonight in the Brazilian embassy, a move creating chaos in his country and sparking heated international debate. Ines Ferre with our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mayhem and violence outside the Brazilian embassy in Honduras, police using tear gas to break apart demonstrations. Streets are blocked. The ousted president snuck back into his country and went to the Brazilian embassy for asylum, throwing Honduras back into a state of chaos. Zelaya says he wants to talk with the interim government. The state department said it's discussing possible assistance to the Brazilian embassy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she wants dialogue.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's also imperative that the return of President Zelaya does not lead to any conflict or violence, but instead, that everyone act in a peaceful way to try to find some common ground.
FERRE: But the top-ranking Republican on the house Foreign Affairs Committee says it's Zelaya's actions that put his countrymen at risk.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE.: It is a provocative one. One that is going to incite outside agitators to come into Honduras, possibly risk the lives and the safety and the well-being and the economy of the Honduran population.
FERRE: Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen disagrees arguing the U.S. is ignoring what led up to his removal. He was ousted in June for planning a referendum that could have paved the way for longer term limits, something deemed unconstitutional in Honduras. Since then the U.S. has refused to recognize the interim government, suspended visas, and cut off millions of dollars in aid to Honduras. The organization of American states, along with the European Union, have backed Zelaya and called for his reinstatement.
FERRE: The State Department says the U.S. embassy in Honduras is closed because of the fluid situation there. The interim president wants the Brazilian embassy to hand over Zelaya for arrest. Brazil insists they didn't know he'd show up at its embassy but critics question that, given that by the end of the day 70 people had shown up at the embassy and they're saying it's really hard to say that, well, nobody knew about this?
DOBBS: The politics here are transparent. This administration, the Obama administration, has expressed by secretary of state Clinton obviously supporting Zelaya. Also still maintaining they want him back in power, are they not?
FERRE: They want him to be reinstated. Ask in fact -- yeah, elections are coming up in November.
DOBBS: And aligning themselves there without question with Nicaragua, with Brazil, Venezuela, Eva Morales, the list goes on. It's no surprise that Republicans are reacting rather testily to these -- to the situation in Honduras. All right, thanks a lot, appreciate it.
Up next here, Senator Baucus. He's lag for some friends. And looking to his colleagues on the finance committee for some help, for some support.
President Obama at the United Nations, he's got an aggressive agenda on global warming and just about everything else. We'll be talking about that next.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite political analysts, all three CNN contributors. Republican strategist, former white house political director, Ed Rollins, columnist for the "New York Daily News" Errol Louis, Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
Gentlemen, let's start out with Joe Biden. This is Joe Biden summing up where we are on the contest, the initiative for health care reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN: Now, I know this has been a loud and contentious debate. Just look at some of the town meetings. But, the truth is we have never been this close to real reform, ever, since Harry Truman first raised the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Is that true, Hank Sheinkopf?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We're going to have a bill come out, we don't know what the bill's going to look like. We're not close yet. We could be close by the end of the year. The president has put a lot of political capital on the line.
DOBBS: A lot of political capital, ask calling for something to come out of the senate finance committee by Friday? Wow.
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yeah, sure. That's been the theme all along. He's not only put all his political capital, all his chips on this one number, he's pushing. I think, look, he knows his opponents are counting on delay as a strategy. And he also knows he's got a big system to turn around. And that if he doesn't push it, who's going to? We could easily be looking at this in 2011, 2012, going through yet another iteration of, you know, some markup on a bill that we saw introduced back in 2009. So he's betting that pushing and being the driving force is going to move things along.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: What it's going to do is cover up a lot of the facts that people want to know. You basically have got a lot of people on Medicare who are going to lose what they have today, what they've paid into. There's a lot of rhetoric that's out there that basically is misleading. All of this rhetoric that it's not going to cost you anything. How can you basically insure 30 million more people, give them full health benefits, and it doesn't cost anything? That goes against common sense. I think since it doesn't go into effect for four years the more time this congress takes to look at this thing you may end up with a better bill and may end up with bipartisan support.
DOBBS: Or you may end up with something unexpected like the fact that the Obama administration is threatening health companies, health care companies like Humana, with lawsuits for opposing the legislation. And the initiative. Particularly charging Humana with scaring seniors. While at the same time, Baucus acknowledging he's taking about $400 to $500 billion out of Medicare. What's going on?
SHEINKOPF: It's called politics, Lou. When you're playing at this level, you play it with a brick bat. When you want to get something don't you don't say would you please, you use whatever force you have available to do that.
DOBBS: How many teeth will the Obama administration lose in this contest? It's going to be played like that, it's going to get very rough indeed.
LOUIS: They're taking hits every day. I don't think as far as I know the special interests have stopped spending $1 million plus per day to try and get their legislators in order, get their forces mobilized, get their phone calls and postcard campaigns going. So we're still in the thick of it. And it will probably get nastier.
DOBBS: It may get nastier but I can't imagine the discussion, as we were talking about earlier, three times a congressional budget office has had to correct this president. The rhetoric flows but the action seems nonexistent. Correct me.
ROLLINS: I don't want to call this president by anything that would get a referendum in the congress. But he is very, very sloppy with his words and with his facts. And he reverses himself on many, many occasions. And the perfect example in the talk shows over the weekend when they were talking about a tax and he basically said, there's no tax, this is a benefit to you. You're going to get money back. And those are misleading. I think to a certain extent -- we ought to be honest. If we're honest about this --
DOBBS: It was on page 29 of the Baucus initiative.
ROLLINS: It's called an excise tax. I think it's important to have health care reform but I think we ought to be honest. Honesty means that Americans are going to get he is and pay more.
DOBBS: We're going to get more honest. More honest when we continue in just a moment with our panel.
DOBBS: There's a 75-year-old former presidential candidate who may be the next senator from Massachusetts. Michael Dukakis. That's one of the most prominently rumored names to fill Ted Kennedy's seat. What do you think? Lightning rod? Or absolute perfect solution?
SHEINKOPF: Most of the people that he will serve with will not remember that he ran for president. It won't be something that --
DOBBS: You have a high estimation of the senate, don't you?
SHEINKOPF: We're talking about a generation. He fits the profile of the state of Massachusetts rather well. He's a liberal. He's in the Kennedy tradition. It will work out fine.
DOBBS: All right. Errol, the president is not -- there's no part of this guy -- I mean, he seems like he has only one gear and that's sixth. He is going full speed ahead on Middle East peace talks. On global climate change. I mean, one initiative after another. Where is the constraint here? Where is the leavening influence in the Obama administration?
LOUIS: I don't know that there is one. You're exactly right, I mean, that's the pace, that's the strategy. It worked very well for him during the campaign by the way.
DOBBS: But that was about ten months ago. LOUIS: Well, that's true. And I tell you, I think I heard something for the first time that might be sobering even within the administration. His European counterpart saying, we can't get the attention of the top staff of this white house because they're busy fighting on health care and a bunch of other issues. That's the first time I think I've heard from somebody outside of American politics saying, we can't get the guy's attention.
DOBBS: You've heard here that he has only appointed about 40 percent of his top officials. I mean, this is a government -- this is a shadow government in control.
ROLLINS: Including not appointing the assistant secretary that overseas Medicare and Medicaid, the largest government program. A year after the election. Governing is different than campaigning. We've been involved in campaigns. I've been involved in government. This president wrapping his arms around the United Nations, wanting to be an international leader as opposed to a domestic leader, is going to be his downfall.
SHEINKOPF: That's a little bit dramatic. Here are some facts. He's the president of the United States, he's got to be an international leader as well as a domestic leader. Frankly trying to use the United States -- the United Nations as a way to get things done internationally may not be such a bad idea.
ROLLINS: Talking to them and not talking to us about things like the environmental things and nuclear freezes and all the rest of it, sooner or later, comes back to haunt you.
DOBBS: Or shutting down a missile defense shield. Governor David Paterson telling the president of the United States to stick it, he's running. Is President Obama just looking for trouble?
LOUIS: Well, in that case he found it. He had some very legitimate political concerns about what's going on here in New York. He tried to express them to the governor. The governor, who was --
DOBBS: And his staff leaked it to the national media.
LOUIS: Well, I'm not sure whose side leaked it to tell you the truth. I'd be more inclined to suggest the governor's staff leaked it.
DOBBS: Most recently.
LOUIS: Well, it has worked out to the governor ease advantage.
ROLLINS: You stepped all over the U.N. story, come into the governor as home state, it's an embarrassment.
SHEINKOPF: Not the best day they ever had, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Errol, Ed, hank, thank you.
You can hear my thoughts on the president's agenda, the United Nations, and a lot of other issues on the radio Monday through Fridays on the "Lou Dobbs show." 2:00 to 4:00 on WOR 710 radio in New York. Loudobbs.com to get the local listings and sign up for our free daily podcast, that's loudobbs.com. Follow me on Lou Dobbs news on twitter.com.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow.
Coming up next, Campbell Brown.